Posted by: Beth | November 2, 2021

Thanksgiving Advent – Nov 2, 2021


Grateful

Thankful

Appreciative

Content

Satisfied

Aren’t these things we want to be?  Content, satisfied – having all we need?  We especially want others to be appreciative and thankful for what we do for them.  Are we appreciative and thankful for what others do for us?  Are we grateful for what we do have?

Some days, honestly, isn’t it easier to be discontent and grumpy?  I have had days when I said, “I’m in a bad mood.  I’m grumpy and discomgaligumphilated and leave me alone.  I want to stay this way.”  I doubt you find that word in a dictionary.  It means all those grumpy, unsatisfied, out-of-sorts-with-the-world feelings that you just don’t know a word to use to describe them.  And I bet you’ve had some moments like that.  I’ve had days when I really wanted to wallow around in my sorrow and pity party rather than get out of the funk.

But.

There is life to live.  As long as we have a pulse.

Some of you are facing a holiday season for the first time without a loved one (or two or more).  Some of you are over-the-moon happy because after a year or more of not seeing family and friends, THIS is the year everyone gets together to eat and exchange gifts, and everyone is living to tell the tales of 2020.  Some of you are determined to have a great time with family in spite of sickness. Given the last two years, most of us are dealing with a mixture of despair and yearning for happiness.

This I have learned.  Happiness is fleeting.  Joy comes in the morning (ok, I admit it – I am a morning person not a night owl). Each day can bring a fresh start.  Taking a few moments to reflect on something pleasant and calming helps the rest of the day go better.

Today, take five minutes.  Set an alarm if you’re crunched for time.  Take just five minutes.  Breathe.  Make a list on paper or mentally of a few things you have for which you are grateful.  If sadness is weighing you down, cry during these moments.  Sing or listen to a song that brings a smile to your face.  You are on your way to a grateful November.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. – Paul’s letter to the Philippians

#bgwww21  #bgta21

Posted by: Beth | November 1, 2021

Thanksgiving Advent


Ok, so there’s really no generally recognized thing “Thanksgiving Advent.”  There’s the Thanksgiving holiday.  There is the Christian season of Advent, which begins on Thanksgiving or the following Sunday and ends on Christmas.  I like the idea of celebrating Epiphany, if for no other reason it stretches the holiday season another twelve days. It also gives me a good reason to leave the tree up until January 6.  Lest you think I’m overly into Christmas decorations, we tend to put the tree up the Saturday before Christmas.  But I have digressed …. Again … imagine that.

As I sit here in the morning quiet, knowing I will soon hear “How much candy can I have today?” (which really means “I’m going to eat as much as I can before breakfast.”), I think ahead.  We had a very busy October.  I had to write teeny-tiny to get everything on the calendar. I have resolved to make very few appointments during November.  We need to get some things done around the house and we need some time to just be.  And then will come December.  Decades ago when we first home schooled our children, I thought, “Whew!  Now the calendar won’t be so packed in May and December.”  I was wrong.  Where the children are educated has only a small impact on the overall number of activities available.

I have scrolled a little through social media.  People are putting up Christmas trees.  Others are in a camp I was in for much of my life: Can we PLEASE get past Thanksgiving before we dive into Christmas?  Then I was in a business that necessitated planning for Christmas in July and putting it out for customers in November and … you get the idea … I had to get over waiting until December to think about Christmas. 

I have again digressed.  Or maybe not.

Because this kind of thing happens to many of us.  We want to take time to be grateful.  Yet so many things call (or scream) for our attention. 

Many books and online resources are available to assist Christians in preparing their hearts for Christmas.  To encourage taking time to think about more than the gifts we get and the activities we are doing.  For most people, observing Advent ends up being one more thing to check off the list in a season that is already too busy.

So what if we start today?  What if, instead of packing our calendars full for the next two months, we start today?  What if today we do one thing to help us focus on the eternal?  Or if you happen not to believe in the eternal, to focus on the universe and all those in it?

That’s the one thing for today.  Think about that.  Will it make any difference in my life, or anyone else’s, if I take a few moments today to focus on others?   I may run an errand for someone.  I may make a phone call. I may pray with someone. I may answer a call I would otherwise ignore.  Will I take time to stop and really listen to my spouse, my friend, my child, my parent? 

Activities.  Gratitude.  Anticipating a holiday.  They’re all entangled.  May we balance them well.

#bgwww21  #bgta21

Posted by: Beth | October 31, 2021

Hope – and an empty bucket

Hope. An empty Trick or Treat bucket.  They go together?  How in the world?!

On this day, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, they go together WONDERFULLY!

The day began with the end-of-season celebration at Miracle League.  Since it’s the day before Halloween, of course there is a trunk or treat to end the festivities. An “ingrafted” family member (one of those not born into the family but we treat her as such) walked around with the boys as they collected candy and other treats, while I gave away candy and books. Amazing fact 1 of the day: both boys were very agreeable to leaving their candy buckets in the back of the Jeep on the way home.

 I’m thankful they realize how badly red40 food coloring affects their behavior. The older child had told people he couldn’t have red40 and most folks gave him something else. But they are still children, and sometimes having to give up half your loot can be an ordeal.  Amazing fact #2: They didn’t complain about getting rid of a good bit of the candy.  Yes, they still had enough to keep several dentists in business.

Fast forward to the evening.  Hayrides Through Trunks of Treats at our church.  This time the five-year-old stayed with me and gave out candy (and books, until we gave out, which sadly was long before the line of children ended). Our ingrafted daughter also gave out candy and the older child hung out with friends after collecting his treats during a hayride. We had many more people come through than we anticipated.  We ran out of candy several times, and a “candy runner” came by with more. The younger child had made a ride through the event and collected candy.  At one point, I went through his candy, got out what he couldn’t have, and put it in the give-away bowl.  Later, we were almost out again.  That child dumped his bucket into the give-away bowl.  I asked, “Why did you do that?  That was all of your candy.  You didn’t have to.” 

He replied, “I have more at home and I want to share.”  A five-year-old did that. 

And when we were all together again and the older child heard the story, he said, “I’ll share mine with you.”  And he did.

And that is how hope and an empty trick or treat bucket go together.  Bringing up children can be overwhelming.  Tonight, I see hope.  I see character traits I like. And in the future, possibly as soon as tomorrow, when they are fussing and claiming “Mine!” and “He has to give that back!” and even slinging things at each other, I will remember this evening.  Somewhere in their hearts and souls are the seeds of compassion and sharing, and seeds can grow.

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | October 5, 2021

Healing

I whine, moan, and complain so much that I thought I’d share some good news.  Of course, it has some whining and complaining involved.

Yesterday was not a stellar day.  I’m not sure I’d rank it anywhere above so-so.  However, it had a sweet ending.  A not-little-anymore boy wanted to be snuggled into my side with my arm around him as he drifted off to sleep.  That’s sweetness.  That’s trust. That’s peaceful.  I like that.

My first few minutes of being awake yesterday were glorious!

More whining and moaning are in the background information for the glorious to make sense.  For weeks, months, (years, maybe?), when I first get out of bed – or out of a car or any seat where I’ve been for an hour or more – I hobble.  It’s like the bottoms of my feet and my legs and joints have forgotten how to move smoothly.  I move around a few minutes and I’m okay.   A few weeks ago I stepped on an L-shaped piece of metal.  It hit my lower left shin.  It didn’t break or tear anything (yes, I had it checked) but it was sore for days!  Over the next few weeks, the pain moved into my foot, my right knee hurt from compensating, and I have been generally grumpy.  I’ve been taking some supplements to fight off a low-grade (not enough to cause a fever) infection and some anti-inflammatory ones.  (Yes, under the direction of a health care professional.)  I’ve also been unusually whiney and weepy for a few days. 

So, night before last the situation ramped up a bit.  The pain was not just in my shin.  It was in the top of my foot, and in my ankle, and my right knee felt like it may need a doctor’s attention. Then my left elbow felt like tendonitis. Then the bottom of my foot hurt, and my right hip, and my shoulders.  I’m a wimp when it comes to pain.  I admit it.  I was crying quiet tears and took something for the pain.  My back hurt.  I made myself read to the boys anyway.  The medicine kicked in and I slept.

And I awoke.  And I lay there a moment.  No pain.  None.  Not my back, not my hip (which is an off-and-on thing), not my foot, not my sinuses, not nothing. I gently moved to get out of bed. No hobbling.  Was this real? I continued to move gently to the bathroom and then the kitchen.  Wow!  Really, no pain.  Not sure what happened.  Tried to figure out if I did anything different.  I don’t think so.  I didn’t even pray differently.  A little later as I was reading a morning devotional, I realized my neck wasn’t stiff at all. That’s odd, too, first thing in the morning.  So, okay, I didn’t do anything.  This is ALL good.  I’ll put it in the miracle column, say thank you to God, and go on about my day.

I could end this here, but I will add two things.  I did have a couple aches this morning when I arose, but really nothing worth mentioning.  I am SO, SO much better than a week ago. When I saw my NP yesterday, she said it could have been that whatever infection I was fighting gave its last hoorah the night I was hurting and crying.  I’m familiar with the principle. When using homeopathic and herbal remedies, there is often a healing crisis just before you get well.   

I close this with a grateful heart and prayers for a God-lead day.

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | August 25, 2021

MORE, MORE, MORE

I can hear the grandsons chanting now, “More! More! More!”  Usually they’re asking for frozen yogurt or any chocolate candy.  Rarely pizza, because we let them eat that until they’re full.  Rarely for green beans.  Never for Brussels sprouts or squash.  Silly boys.  They’ll learn someday what foods are good.

Don’t we all want more?  Of something?  Money, vacation days, sleep,books, storage space, time, toys, friends, chocolate, something?

I intend to have more during the 2021-2022 school year.  Maybe sharing this is a way of creating some accountability to stick with the plan.  I’ve wanted more for our grandsons, but there is only so much time in a day and often not enough to energy to accomplish my heart’s desires.  But this school year I have a more structured plan than I have had the past few years.

First, a little background.

We have home educated our grandsons from kindergarten to the present, they are in grades K5 and 4.  (Yes, it’s legal because we have custody.  Laws vary from state to state.) In January, 2020 (yes, that year), after encouragement from a new friend, we joined a Classical Conversations community.  As it turned out, 2020 held very few community activities for anyone, but we’ve stuck with it.  2020-21 was a better school year, but we still didn’t get nearly as much out of the program as we could have.  CC is a base for home school studies, or a supplement, not a replacement, and I simply did not utilize the materials and opportunities as much as I would have liked.  Classical education is a method of learning that involves a lot of memorization in the early years  Do you know a child ages four to ten that doesn’t like learning new songs and facts?  Maybe not the facts and songs we would like, but they are memorizing something all the time.  It’s the way the brain is wired at that age. I am not, I repeat I am NOT a memorizer by choice. I would much rather be able to figure stuff out from a rough outline and piece it together.   Yes, I prefer math and science over literature and history. However, facts are important.  Facts are part of the tool set we use to piece together information. 

My plan is to follow the CC model and be a lead learner in our home.  Although I don’t like to memorize and it will be more difficult for me than the boys, I will try.   I hope to encourage them to be more diligent by doing so myself.  By learning more of the material, all of us will have a better foundation for learning in the future. It’s a simple plan.  Check back near the end of 2021 and the end of the school year to see if I’ve done well enough to share how I’ve done. 😊   After all, one key to having more is to have a plan to get there.  We’re after more knowledge, which is necessary for more wisdom, and we can certainly use more wisdom.   

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | August 23, 2021

Careful with your spoons!

Big spoons
Little spoons

Solid spoons
Slotted spoons

Metal spoons
Plastic spoons

Clean spoons
Dirty spoons

Filled spoons
Empty spoons

We all have spoons.
We all need spoons.

Ah, but I have moved from the physical to the metaphorical.  I loved the Spoon Theory for energy the moment I heard it.  Basically, each person has a number of “spoons” available each day. Every activity requires a number of spoons.  When you run out of spoons, you’re done for the day, no matter how much day is left. Thankfully, this story was easy to track on the internet.  Christine Miserandino shared her story of living with a chronic illness that saps your energy. You can search her name and find numerous articles and videos.

Back to my story ….

Each of us has an amount of energy to use throughout any given day. Each of us has tasks to do every day. It’s easier to visualize spoons than energy, so I’ll get back to spoons. Some days, we can shower, get dressed and out the door and barely notice we’ve used a spoon.  Work at a paying job or care for children all day and you notice some spoons are missing.  Add in laundry, a community meeting, a favor for a friend, walking the dog, handling fifteen phone calls, and preparing meals, and most of your spoons may be used up for the day.  Hopefully, a decent night’s sleep and you’ll have a new drawerful of spoons for the next day.

Only ….. life isn’t always so smooth.

A large number of things can decrease the number of spoons you have available.  These same things can increase the number of spoons you need to complete a task. Double whammy.  It ain’t fair, but whoever told you life is fair lied.  So here is an incomplete list of things that can decrease your morning inventory of spoons and increase the number of spoons you need to do even simple things like get dressed, fix a cup of tea, load and run the clothes washer, or remember to have the oil changed in the car.  The visible or big things we think of, maybe not so much the invisible and “smaller” things.

loss of a pet
an important event coming up soon – graduation, wedding, moving, new job
change in schedule – school, job, vacation
death of a loved one
birth of a child
nagging, non-specific physical pain
betrayal
mental stress
weather events – drought, flood, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, flood, blizzard, sandstorm, wildfire
political events
news in general
decisions by loved ones that land them in jail
accidents
hospitalizations
change of seasons – temperatures, pollen, etc.
misunderstandings
interruption of supplies getting to stores
loss of a utility for a while – water, electricity, phone and internet service
chronic physical illness
conflict with family or friends

And a list of things to, hopefully, increase the inventory and decrease the number needed for a task.  Some cost money; some don’t.  Be mindful of your budget, but remember your self-care is important, too.

quiet, preferably in nature
walk barefoot in the grass or on the sand or in a creek
a cup of tea or coffee or plain water
slow, deep breathing
restful sleep (which can be difficult to get, I know)
time with a friend, in person or on the phone
laughter
remembering pleasant things
music you enjoy
massage
round of golf
fishing
a stroll or a run
stretching
any physical activity that doesn’t further harm your body
time with Jesus and The Word
healthy foods
an unhealthy treat – as long as it doesn’t cause more troubles
regular check-ups with your health care team
disconnect from the electronic world for a while
do something for someone else – people like pleasant mail and chatty phone calls

Sometimes there is little to be done about the number of spoons we have in a day.  Grief and health problems are notorious about changing the number of spoons we need for a task – from day to day and even within a day.  Accepting that is a major key to learning to be careful with your spoons.  Just because you have 162 one day does not mean you will have that many the next; you may only have 57. There may be days you have only a dozen.  Those days are really hard.  May you be blessed with a friend who will share some spoons on your rough days.  Remember to share yours when you can.

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | August 21, 2021

The Handshake

A rarity for our family happened recently.  Chuck and I were in the car together – alone – for several hours.  As our conversation jumped from one topic to another and sometimes back, we touched upon his leaving ATS.  For those who may not already know, “leaving” is a polite word.  He was fired.  Terminated.  For a safety violation.  No matter how small or dangerous (or not) a violation is, the rule is zero tolerance.  He was walked out the door without even locking up his tools.  During our travels, we couldn’t remember for sure which month it was.  We knew the anniversary was approaching.

Later that day, in Harbor Freight, I noticed Chuck talking with someone.  I walked over and joined the conversation.  The chatter was friendly and newsy – of raising grandchildren and learning new things and kids going off to college.  Chuck introduced us and I knew the name was familiar, but couldn’t quite put any significance with it. With a handshake, “Good to see you,” and “Safe travels” we parted ways.

The next day I was doing some catching up in my Ten Year Journal.  I love that book.  On each page is space for four lines about events on that date – for ten consecutive years.  I’m in year six in this one.  No, I don’t write every day.  There may be some important events that aren’t recorded.  Some silly ones are recorded.  A lot of it is mundane. When I flip through I wonder why I leave so many blank spaces.  Sometimes before or just after I write I’ll read what happened the years before.  Sometimes my heart aches.  Sometimes I laugh.  Often I smile – either at what happened or how well a person has done since the recorded event.  Anyway – I noticed that the day before was the one-year anniversary of Chuck being walked out the door at work.  I told Chuck that and he said, “You mean exactly one year ago the man I shook hands with started the paperwork that terminated me?”

“Yep, exactly a year.”

“Well.”

Several times recently I’ve seen a meme on social media that your struggles can make you bitter or make you better.  This one has definitely made things better.  Was the process of being fired and deciding what to do next good or fun or anything positive?  No, not really.  Did we get through it?  Well, yeah, here we are. Have some positive things happened because Chuck is home all the time?  Yes, yes, yes.  Wait – no, he isn’t really home all the time.  He’s a little like my daddy, who a few months after retirement said, “I might have to go back to work to get some rest.”  Everyone who knew Daddy or knows Chuck knows they don’t rest while at work.  Life stays busy even after retirement.

I think I wanted to share this because there is so much negativity in the air and on social media these days.  Part of it is someone intentionally making bad or mediocre things worse.  Most of it is simply the way life is right now – for a variety of reasons, life is just hard.

BUT – even in the hard, negative-energy filled times, there is hope.  Two men who butted heads at work.  One had to (company policy) terminate the other.  And they had a pleasant conversation and shook hands.  We have the option of letting time and God make things better.

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. – Isaiah 43:1

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | July 14, 2021

Same Message

Oh dear Lord, why do I have to keep taking all these vitamins and medicines? Yeah, yeah. I know.  One is for blood pressure and another is for thyroid.  Because of a genetic thing my body doesn’t methylate B12 so to have any energy at all I need that. My brain won’t slow down at night so it’s magnesium and calcium to the rescue.  Hey!  How about I just eat a banana split every night? Huh, huh, huh?  I love a banana split. Banana has magnesium; ice cream has calcium.  Oh, yeah.  Just a touch too much sugar too late. Oh, whatever.

Yes, whatever.  Can you at least be grateful you have access to those supplements and medicines and professionals who know more than you do about figuring out which ones to take? You do have a choice, you know.  You could just stop taking any of them.

WAIT RIGHT THERE!  I don’t think so.  If I miss them a few days I feel awful.  And there’s a few I dare not miss a dose.  It’s just not a good thing for me nor anyone around me.

You were just complaining about taking them.  And now you’re justifying why you should.  You’re confusing – or confused – or both.

Oh I don’t know!  I know I need them but I just get tired.  Tired of taking them.  Tired of going to the doctor. Tired of paying for them.  I’ve tried eating right and I still needed some of them.

Why can’t you just wave a magic wand or let me wake up one day and all is well with my body and soul?

You don’t need magic?  LOL. I’m sure you don’t!  And all will be well?  I like that idea!  I won’t need vitamins and medicines and a heating pad.  AND people will get along and not be fussing? And I can visit with my friends instead of working opposite shifts? Really?!

Uh, wait a minute.  I’m not so sure I’m ready to check out of this world, if that’s what you have in mind. 

So I better suck it up buttercup and deal with all this mess?

SIGH.

Okay, let me be sure I’ve got this right.  Spend some time with you IN THE QUIET.  (yeah, because quiet and calm are so easy to find … not). Listen for you even in the noisy times.  Write out some scriptures and put them where I’ll see them with little effort (that would be beside the coffee pot). Let you fill me with your peace. (I like that idea.) Focus on your words instead of the storms around me.  Yep … sounds like what I’ve heard for years.

It is what you’ve heard for years.  The message is the same.  You forget it.  You get distracted by arguments and illness and busyness. But I am here. I love you. I will help you.  I will be with you – when the routines are tiring, when the sunsets are breath-taking, when people can’t get along, when children hug you, when people talk terribly about you, when you can’t see the sunrise for the fog, when the walls are closing in, and when celebrations abound.  Breathe.  Let my love and grace fill you, and then share it with others.

(Perhaps one day I will look up the scriptures that support the encouragement above, but it will not be this morning.)

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | June 17, 2021

Escaping Grief?

Escaping Grief?

My daddy died unexpectedly in 2015. There was a bit of a legal ordeal afterwards. That adds to the grief.

About three years later our 29-year-old son died in 2018.

I had been wanting for a couple years or so to attend a music conference again. I LOVED going to Choral Fest “back in the day.” I decided to go ahead and attend the Lifeway Worship Conference in Gatlinburg, TN in June, 2019. I knew no one else who was going and that would be fine. I would be away and for a few days could pretend that mess was a bad dream and just revel in the music and worship. I would go to bed early if I wanted and sleep late if I needed to. I would just not think about the grief but instead be rejuvenated. It was an excellent plan.

Much of it went as planned. I was able to sleep when I wanted and needed to. I enjoyed the presentations of new music. I had my toes stepped on a few times during the messages. I cried during worship, but that’s normal for me.

What I didn’t plan on …. was … the first afternoon I saw someone I knew. A friend from another state who knew of our son’s struggles while living and that he had died. It was comforting to have someone who knew but didn’t expect me to talk. Then during the lunch break of the first full day, I joined three ladies I did not know. They were dear friends to each other and welcomed me into their circle. We introduced ourselves, talked, laughed, and shared a bit of our stories. I kinda “crashed their party” and joined them for other meals and sat with them during some listening sessions. And what did I do one evening at supper? I told them about our son’s death. They were very supportive. The last afternoon I was looking at some devotional books. When the author asked if I needed some help choosing one, what did I do? I blurted out that our son would have turned 30 that day and boo-hooed and boo-hooed. I sorta got myself together and chose one. Bless her, the next morning she was packing up her table as I walked by and she told me that she and her husband had prayed for me that morning.

We canNOT outrun God’s mercy and comforts. Even when all we want to do is run and hide and forget it, the grief is still there.  And God will send someone to walk beside you.

So …. In your grief you will wonder what to do and what not to do.  You will want to keep traditions.  Other days you will want everything to be different so you don’t miss your loved one so much. My unasked-for two cents worth is to plan your usual family gatherings When the day arrives if you do not feel like celebrating, don’t. Cry. Eat good food. Hug each other. Cry some more. Maybe the tears will, that day, turn into laughter as someone remembers funny things your loved one did.  And someone else will remember something sweet. And you will find yourself creating new, precious memories in spite of the grief.

#bgwww21

Posted by: Beth | June 17, 2021

UGH

Ugh!

Sigh

NoooooOOOOOOOOO

What?!!
Uh, no, you did not just say that.


Silence
Screams

Whimpers
Sobs

Silence

Pain in the guts
The heart
The whole body

New events
Ongoing struggles

The quiet ones
The chatty ones
The great-vocabulary ones

There will be a time when there are no words.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.. – Romans 8:26 ESV

#bgwww21

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